Sunday, March 05, 2006

Sunday, March 5th, 2006:
Sorrow in Helsingborg:
an imported superstition

What I think:

Every country or culture has its own superstitions and Old Wives' Tales. In England, there's one about counting magpies to tell the future. One of the rhymes goes like this:

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a secret
Never to be told.

So, according to this, if you see a single magpie, you're going to experience sorrow on that day. Spotting two means that you'll have a good day. I'm not sure about spotting three: does it mean that you'll meet the girl of your dreams, or will someone you know give birth to a girl? And if I see four, will I become gay, or will there be a bouncing baby boy barging into this world via a friend or relative's birth canal?

Whatever. If I see any more than two magpies together, I generally take no notice. My problem is that here in Helsingborg, I far-too-frequently see just one. On my walk to work, at least a couple of times a week, I see a single magpie, sitting around looking smugly at me as I stumble past. Or sometimes hopping mockingly from side to side. Although I'm not very superstitious, I can't help but find this a bit unsettling.

But there is a way to counter this bad omen. Apparently, when you happen to see a single magpie, you're supposed to say either "Hello, Mr Magpie", or "Say hello to your brother". Although I feel a bit silly to admit it, I can't help saying one or the other of these things during my lone magpie encounters. But to avoid looking strange to anyone passing by, I often pull out my mobile, pretend that I'm talking to someone and say, "OK yah, well do say hello to your brother, yah? Yah, my people will talk to your people, and they'll do lunch, OK? Yah. Bye-ee!"

See, this not only removes any potential upcoming doom in my life, but also makes me look ever so posh at the same time. OK, perhaps my ear and nose piercings detract a bit from this overall impression, but at least people don't think I'm talking to a bird because I'm afraid of what its presence may mean, according to some archaic superstitious nonsense. Which makes me a bit posh, right?

The point I'm trying to make here is that there are too many single magpies hanging out in Helsingborg. It's so rare that I see two or three chilling out together here. In my view, this means that there is too much sorrow in Helsingborg, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

The news today (oh, boy)
From the world outside:

UK News: Teen On Murder Charge: A teenager is to appear in court accused of murdering schoolboy Joe Geeling, whose body was found dumped in a park on Thursday. The 11-year-old, who had cystic fibrosis, was discovered in an overgrown ditch in Whitehead Park, Bury, Greater Manchester. A post-mortem examination revealed that Joe died of multiple stab wounds. Tributes are to be paid by his local community at a series of special church services in Bury, including the family's local church, St Marie's. A police spokeswoman said the 14-year-old would appear in court in Greater Manchester on Monday.
From Sky News

US News: No nuclear aid for Pakistan as Bush departs: Pakistan won't receive U.S. help for its civilian nuclear power program as India did, President Bush said Saturday before departing Islamabad. "We discussed a civilian nuclear program, and I explained that Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories," Bush said at a news conference with President Pervez Musharraf. "So, as we proceed forward, our strategy will take in effect those well-known differences."
From CNN

Sweden: 34 injured in major pile up: A major pile-up on the E4 motorway between Arlanda and Upplands Väsby caused southbound traffic to come to a complete standstill on Saturday afternoon.According to witnesses, 30 to 40 cars could have been involved in the accident.
From The Local - Sweden's news in English

Canada: Third man pleads guilty in Canada-U.S. drug tunnel: A Surrey, B.C. man pleaded guilty in a Seattle courtroom Friday for his role in digging the first sophisticated drug-smuggling tunnel under the Canada-U.S. border.
Timothy Woo could face at least five years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana, the Associated Press has reported. Francis Devandra Raj and Jonathan Valenzuela, also from Surrey, had previously entered guilty pleas.

From CBC News


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